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12 July 2017

A guide to where to stay to see the Serengeti's Great Migration in December

Firstly, where are the herds? December is a month that sees the herds settling into the wet season grazing grounds of the southern Serengeti and northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area. At the start of the month the herds are often still moving south where as by Christmas and the New Year the southern plains are certainly the place to be.

The focus for the next few months is the volcanic soil of the ‘Serengit’ – the endless short grass plains. Here, nutritious grasses create the perfect mineral balance for muscle and bone growth in young wildebeest whilst adults benefit from the best grazing in the entire ecosystem. This can often be the start of calving season, although peak calving season concentrates itself in a few weeks between January and February.

Due to the fact the herds are still on the move it’s important to decide where you stay on exactly when you travel. At the start of December the central plains of Seronera and Namiri as well as an area further south called Moru (which has the best accommodation) would be my focus, whilst from the 15th December onward Kusini and Ndutu are the places to be. For longer Serengeti ‘migration focused’ trips it is advisable to use camps that cover the entire of the areas mentioned above.

THE VIDEO BELOW – an overview of where to stay in December to maximise your chance of seeing the herds.

BENEATH THE VIDEO - a write up of my favourite lodges and recommendations for where to stay that covers all price points

Serengeti Migration   where to stay December

The Serengeti Migration's best camps and safari lodges in December

There are two different styles of property to choose from. The first is the famous ‘Serengeti mobiles’ that follow the herds, and the second is the ‘permanent lodges’ (or camps). The Serengeti mobiles tend to cater for the more adventurous traveller, however I would always encourage people to consider the idea of the mobile camps; they are much more comfortable than people expect and are often the highlight of a safari.

Throughout the calving season (December through to April) mobile camps are the focus of most of the trips I design, because there are very few permanent lodges around Ndutu and Kusini which is where I suggest most clients stay. The exception to the rule is the Moru area in early December, when the herds are often still pushing south - there are some great lodges here at very attractive rates.

To help you understand what you get for your money, we split the Serengeti’s properties into three different price brackets – Value, Classic, and Luxury. It's worth mentioning that the prices below do NOT include any long stay deals etc. Therefore our safaris can often be less expensive than this nightly rate. Also, early December is very much LOW season, so rates in camps and therefore our price categories are different from previous months.

1-15 December – Kusini and the Moru Kopje, just south of the central Seronera river valley.

‘Value’ Serengeti camps (approximately $400-500 per person per night)

Mobile Camps – There are no good quality mobile camps open in the value price bracket at this time of year.

Permanent lodges - Kiota camp is a camp we tend to use rarely but it remains a good property with very competitive rates in early December - some of the best value in the entire park at any time of year! The competition in my mind however is between Nasikia’s Naona Moru and Lemala’s Ewanjan. Finding a favourite between these two is very hard indeed – they are both superb and similarly styled properties. I’d probably go for Ewanjan due to its better location.

My suggestion for the value price bracket - Kiota is ridiculously good value where as Lemala's Ewanjan would be my pick of the slightly more expensive properties.

‘Classic’ Serengeti camps (approximately $650 per person per night)

Mobile Camps - A slight step up from our ‘Value’ bracket is Asilia’s Ubuntu at Kusini, however the office favourite in this price bracket is Nomad Tanzania’s Serengeti Safari Camp.  With a very competitive price for the time of year and a wonderful approach to authentic safari this is a fantastic camp.

Permanent Lodges – Asilia Safaris’ Namiri Plains or Dunia Camp are the two to talk about. They are well located in Namiri and Moru respectively. Out of these two properties Namiri gets my vote due to its remote location that keeps clients away from the busier Moru area.

My suggestion for the classic price bracket - I have always been a fan of Serengeti Safari Camp due to the authentic approach of the company that runs it and the fact that they offer great value when combined with their sister properties elsewhere – in Tarangire or the Ngorongoro, for example. They get my vote at this time of year although Namiri is outstanding.

‘Luxury’ Serengeti camps (approximately $650 per person per night)

Mobile camps - In my mind there is a very good argument to say that the Classic camps – specifically Serengeti Safari Camp should be considered at this bracket. &beyond’s Serengeti Under Canvas is the most expensive mobile open at this time of year but I’ve always questioned the value this property offers.

Permanent Lodges - Pioneer Camp would be my pick of the bunch for luxury levels alone – it is the most luxurious lodge in the region. Kusini Camp itself is wonderful but perhaps slightly too far south for this time of year.

The final place to mention is the Singita Reserve in the western Serengeti - a great option to end for a few nights of sheer luxury after a migration focused few nights…but not an area that’s reliable in December for the herds. The best of these is Faru Faru whilst Sasakwa deserves its own special mention for being a genuinely 5* luxury hotel option in the bush, the likes of which I have not seen elsewhere in Africa.

My suggestion for the luxury price bracket – If you were looking for an adventurous mobile style of property then look no further than Serengeti Safari Camp in the classic price bracket - the experience is really very good indeed. However Pioneer is the stand out option for luxury alone. And ending with a Singita property is as good as safari gets!

Are you considering going on safari?

If so, then we would love to help you design it! With all the information on the net today we quite often find clients somewhat confused and flooded with information. The best thing you can do is to speak to someone in the YZ office about your plans. We have three members of staff who have worked in the Serengeti and can talk you through the best options for you, at the right time of year.

Wies ([email protected], pronounced Veece!) is a professional safari guide and camp manager, while Lauren ([email protected]) worked for Legendary Expeditions and Mwiba. They know the Serengeti backwards… and they love to chat about it!

Please feel free to get in touch with either them or myself on [email protected].

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